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How to write the 2021-2022 Columbia supplemental essays

by Story2 Staff, on Jul 24, 2021 12:38:11 PM

When you’re applying to Columbia University, you’ll need to complete a series of shorter questions and four supplemental essays. The list questions must be answered in list form using commas or semicolons. There are three short answer questions of 200 words max.

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Here's how to answer each type of Columbia supplemental essay! 

Columbia Question #1

List the titles of the required readings from academic courses that you enjoyed most during secondary/high school.

This question is straightforward. It asks for required readings in courses you enjoyed. If there's a link to something you might study in college, that's great, but not necessary. Remember, these prompts are only asking for a list; so don’t offer any explanation or context. 

List the titles of the books, essays, poetry, short stories or plays you read outside of academic courses that you enjoyed most during secondary/high school.

This question helps readers understand how you learn outside of the classroom, and what you turn to when you’re not being graded. There are no right or wrong answers, so be honest — don’t include any books you haven’t actually read, or those that you were required to read for a class. Remember: it's just a list; no explanation! 

List the titles of the print or digital publications, websites, journals, podcasts or other content with which you regularly engage.

Similar to the prior question, this helps readers learn about how you pursue knowledge outside of an academic setting. It also shows a bit about what you're interested in. This list can include any kind of publication. If your favorites are the Try Guys, My Favorite Murder, or ESPN, that’s perfectly fine! Readers want to know who you are as a person, and that includes purely recreational interests and hobbies. 

List the movies, albums, shows, museums, lectures, events at your school or other entertainments that you enjoyed most during secondary/high school (in person or online).

Again, colleges want is to get to know the real you, so don’t feel the need to choose anything just because you think it’s what they are looking for. If your favorites happen to be more academic or serious, that’s great, but you can also just be honest and say you really love the show Nailed It! 

Columbia Question #2

Columbia students take an active role in improving their community, whether in their residence hall, classes or throughout New York City. Their actions, small or large, work to positively impact the lives of others. Share one contribution that you have made to your family, school, friend group or another community that surrounds you. (200 words or fewer)

This is a classic community question, and it’s designed to give Columbia admissions readers insight into what you’ll be like as a Columbia student and what you’ll contribute to the community. The best way to demonstrate this is to tell the story of a positive contribution you’ve made in the past to one of your communities. You’re a part of many different communities, including school, family, neighborhood, friends, work, religion, or any other group affiliation. What role do you play in these communities? What action -- the question says "large or small" so it really can be anything -- what actions have you taken to make your community better? Describe the situation before and after you took action, and, as much as possible, show the results of your action. How do you know that your contribution made a positive difference in your community?

Columbia Question #3

Why are you interested in attending Columbia University? (200 words or fewer)

This prompt is straightforward enough: Why Columbia? It’s your chance to show admissions readers that you’re a great fit for their school. Remember that many, many other students just like you are excited about the prospect of attending an Ivy League college in New York City, so you’re going to need to go deeper! The best “why this college?” responses are personal, unique, and specific. Take some time to research Columbia programs and offerings, and then show readers what being a student at Columbia would look like for you! 

Columbia Question #4

Please tell us what from your current and past experiences (either academic or personal) attracts you specifically to the areas of study that you noted in the application. (200 words or fewer)

This is a “Why this Major?” question! You don’t need to be 100% certain about the major you’re discussing, and you don’t need to have already studied it in-depth. In asking this question, the college wants to know that you’ve given your prospective major some serious thought, and that you’re academically curious and excited about the programs Columbia has to offer. So put aside any notions about what readers might want you to choose, because there’s no right answer! Choose whatever area you’re most passionate about right now, and tell readers the story of a moment that sparked this passion. 

Go back to main Supplemental Essays post.

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Topics:college admissions